Apple allows long-term shareholders to nominate board members

An Apple logo hangs above the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City, July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar

(Reuters) - Apple Inc on Tuesday became the latest U.S. company to amend its bylaws to allow long-term shareholders to nominate members to its board.

The iPhone maker in a filing said a shareholder who owns at least three percent of its outstanding shares continuously for at least three years were eligible to nominate directors.

Other companies who have agreed to adopt new “proxy access” rules this year include Microsoft Corp, Staples Inc, Big Lots Inc and Whiting Petroleum Corp.

“Proxy access” is shareholders’ ability to nominate directors to run against a company’s chosen slate of director nominees using its annual meeting materials.

The debate of proxy access has gained momentum through the year, with pension funds led by the New York City Employees’ Retirement System and Calpers putting more than 100 resolutions at shareholder meetings in the U.S. demanding proxy access.

Under Apple’s new bylaws, a group of up to 20 shareholders are eligible to nominate up to a fifth of the board, the company said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

The Apple board currently has 8 members, including Chief Executive Tim Cook and Walt Disney Co CEO Bob Iger.

Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta